How UGA Ran All Over Clemson
After a close game through three quarters, Georgia put Clemson away late in the game due to the success of their rushing attack. Clemson allowed 458 yards rushing and five touchdowns with Todd Gurley accounting for 198 yards and three touchdowns by himself. All four of the touchdown runs by running backs were over 18 yards. This is going to examine how Georgia was able to break down the Tigers’ defense.
Todd Gurley’s First Touchdown Run
Georgia overloads to the short side of the field with a tight end and a full back outside the left tackle, and two receivers on the opposite side to take the defensive backs out of the play. They run an inside zone with counter action in the backfield, a play designed to bounce outside on the backside. Seeing the opening, Gurley indeed bounces it outside. Clemson is in a 4-3 under with Cover-2 in the secondary.
The left tackle and the tight end turn defensive end Vic Beasley inside, while the full back seals outside linebacker B.J. Goodson inside as well. Linebacker Stephone Anthony has to cover the A gap and has outside support responsibility if the play bounces. He plays the A gap initially and Gurley is able to gain the edge with his speed.
From there it is up to Gurley to outrun the pursuit from the linebackers and secondary. Clemson should have checked into a defense that brought the safety up in run support as soon as they saw the wingback outside the tight end. Either way, if the defense had taken better angles they may have been able to stop Gurley before he reached the end zone. Instead, it’s a 23-yard touchdown run.
Todd Gurley’s Second Touchdown Run
Gurley takes the pitch and finds a wide-open cutback lane. He makes one man miss in the secondary and easily scores.
The play is originally supposed to be a toss-stretch right with zone blocking to the short side of the field with a pulling right tackle. Clemson is again in a 4-3 under formation with man-free coverage. The Clemson defense already have eight men in the box with the safety cheating up to the short side of the field. Defensive end Vic Beasley is not on the field.
Grady Jarrett flows with the rest of the defensive line to the playside to stretch the play out. Linebacker Tony Steward has the cutback responsibility here, however, and overflows out of his gap. The Clemson backside defensive end also gets cut off too easily, rather than compressing the backside more effectively. This combination creates a wide lane for Gurley.
Gurley makes the cutback and easily runs into the end zone, since Clemson had no secondary support due to the eight man front. If Clemson had maintained proper gap discipline, this play likely turns into a gain of a few yards rather than an 18-yard touchdown run.
Nick Chubb’s Touchdown
Nick Chubb takes the toss and breaks a few tackles en route to his first career touchdown.
Georgia lines up in with the tight end on the opposite side of the way they are running. Again Clemson is running a 4-3 under formation with Cover-2 coverage. A corner is in the box because he is lined up on the tight end. Defensive end Vic Beasley is not on the field. Georgia runs toss sweep to the right.
The center and right guard pull and, since the corner is playing eight yards off the ball, the receiver is able to crash down and block a linebacker. Safety Robert Smith has a chance to tackle him in the backfield, but doesn’t breakdown and Chubb sidesteps him.
The fullback is able to take out cornerback Martin Jenkins, and Chubb breaks tackles from linebackers Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward.
Safety Jadar Johnson has a chance to make the tackle here, but he isn’t able to make the play and from there it’s a race to the end zone. This play should have been stopped in the backfield, or for a short gain, if the Clemson defense had taken proper angles and tackled well. Instead it’s a 47-yard touchdown run and the rout is on.
Todd Gurley’s Third Touchdown
Gurley breaks his longest run of the night and removes any chance of a comeback.
Georgia lines up in another strong formation with both tight ends on the short side of the field. The lone Georgia receiver is on the opposite side of the field. Georgia runs the same toss sweep as they did on the Chubb touchdown run. Clemson is in the 4-3 under with man to man coverage in the secondary.
The center and right tackle both pull making six blockers on six defenders. A tight end is able to force linebacker BJ Goodson to overrun the play.
Cornerback Cordrea Tankersley has a chance to make the play, but takes a poor angle and has to attempt an arm tackle, which Gurley just runs through. After that there’s no one to catch him and he puts the game firmly out of reach. This is another play where a Clemson defender has a chance to prevent the big play, but bad fundamentals cost them. The Clemson defense was extremely tired and worn down by this point.
The last three Georgia touchdowns could all have been prevented if the Clemson defense had played with discipline. They consistently over ran the play, missed tackles and took poor angles. Vic Beasley was not on the field for any of these three plays, and the first touchdown was directly at him. The Clemson defense got tired late in the game, and Georgia took advantage of it. The Clemson defensive tackles played well, but Georgia, for the most part, stayed away from the inside runs and took advantage of Clemson’s lack of size outside and the defense’s tendency to overrun plays with cutbacks. Florida State will look to run a similar concept with the stretch being one of Jimbo Fisher’s, and Karlos Williams’, favorite plays. If Florida State can consistently gain the outside edge like Georgia did it could be a long night for the Tiger defense.